Carmilla of Styria
Why I chose to make this costume:
What can I say? The Castlevania animated series enraptured me and inspired me to not only make the Carmilla costume but also to build a castle interior set for photos. I got into the show when the 4th and last season was released and I am so glad I got to binge the entire series without having to wait between seasons. Midway through season 4, I shouted at the TV that I would make Carmilla's final costume and it became a mild obsession every since lol.
How I made this costume:
I had a stash of 10 meters of high end red stretch velvet from a costume that I abandoned, and it was just enough for Carmilla's red dress. I patterned out the mock-up by combining two different commercial sewing patterns for evening gowns and heavily altering it, including adding panels at the back and side seams to fill out the sweeping rounded train of the dress.
Once I got a nice dress fit, I pattered the cape sleeves from scratch. Fun fact, they are one large piece with no visible seams!
Stretch velvet is very fussy so even cutting out the dress was a pain. The fabric has a notable grain which meant having to cut every garment piece in the same direction and because of the size of each piece, I could only do it while crawling around on the floor lol. 10 meters was JUST enough for the dress, thank goodness. I spent the better part of a week wrangling the dress and sewing the slippery heavy velvet. I also had to match the lining as close as possible which meant basically sewing the dress twice. In the end, it was really worth it using the velvet as it photographs amazingly and flows like a dream. I also don't have to iron it, only light steaming required.
I pattenerd the shoulder armor and made the pieces out of 5mm EVA foam from my Cosplay By Yaya Han line. I also used my half-moon dowels to do the raised areas and filled in the gaps with the newly available Foam Clay from my collection. Then I sealed the pieces with plasti-dip and painted it gold with Tamiya gold spray paint. The pieces attach to the dress via velcro.
Nails, wig and makeup:
Carmilla has that undead pale complexion that requires bodypaint, and I really did not want to deal with long red nails glued to painted hands and whatever mess touching the dress would cause. A couple of years back, I bought some white gloves from a cosplay shop in Japan that are made of pantyhose material, and it turns out that they were perfect for this costume. I put on the gloves and glued the nails to the them instead of my skin and the result was really convincing. I have to be careful not to snag the hose material but the gloves match the rest of my makeup really well and give me so much more mobility.
My gorgeous nails were provided by Onyx Nails Design.
The wig started off as a lace front wavy wig from Arda wigs and the only thing I did to it was straightening it.
The white body makeup is the cream white from Kryolan, sponged on and heavily sealed with setting powder and setting spray. I tried to be very thoughtful with the beauty makeup and spent over 2 hours for the transformation into Carmilla. I really dig the contouring and the high shine eyeshadow on my lids, which was the Moondust from Surreal Makeup.
Thoughts on this costume:
I gotta talk about the photo set, which is probably our most elaborate to date. I really wanted to create Carmilla's chamber which she used in the show to chart maps and plan out her conquest of all humans. Brian helped me put up three backdrops and I hid the seams with black cloth, then we filled the room with items that I thought Carmilla would have. I had already collected some of the furniture such as the table, cabinet, candle sconce and rugs. For set dressing, I bought parchment paper and a map, the ornate chalice and the feather quill. I also found a globe meant for bar storage that worked way too well in a war room setting, and Brian somehow has an antique telescope in his possession that was passed down in his family. The red velvet chair became the crowning piece of this set, which I snagged on Facebook Marketplace mere days before the photoshoot.
This is one of my favorite cosplay shoots to date and I loved being able to move around on the set and stage different photos with the props and dressing. Building photo sets has really elevated my creativity and it's exciting to see how immersive each new photoshoot can become.
A huge thank you to Brian for taking the photos, and to Ashley Riot and Johnny Fowle for assisting during the shoot.
Addition: I'm so excited that in early November 2021, we also did a Castlevania Council of Sisters photoshoot! My gorgeous sisters were:
Each cosplayer made their respective costume and I built the set with Brian’s help. This is literally everything I wanted and dreamed of ever since we binge watched the anime earlier this year lol. I’m so proud of our combined effort and shared passion for the show which made this shoot happen!